For legendary actress Alfre Woodard, the appeal of the Newport Beach Film Festival Icon Award she received Sunday was all about location, location, location.
“What does it mean?” Woodard repeated to a questioner on the red carpet when asked about the award. “It means I get to come to Newport Beach, I always like a good excuse. I mean, I just live up in Santa Monica, but you know how thick that traffic can get. So it’s like, oh my God, I can get to Newport Beach and I don’t have to drive because I am getting an honor, so yay! And I love film festivals, and I’m so happy to learn about this one so close to home.”
Woodard must wait until next spring to come back down for that film fest. (Note to co-founders Gregg Schwenk and Todd Quartararo: Send a car and it sounds as if one of the greatest actors of her generation will attend.) Fortunately for Woodard, Orange County’s premiere cultural event and Visit Newport Beach also dish out Fall Honors annually that included her top award.
The event at The Resort at Pelican Hill also included Distinction Awards given to: Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Detective Rosa Diaz on NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and stars in next year’s big screen version of the Quiara Alegría Hudes/Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical In the Heights; Allen Leech, who played Tom Branson on the ITV/PBS series Downton Abbey and portrayed Freddie Mercury’s gofer and confidante Paul Prenter in Bohemian Rhapsody; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts, who is also a veteran stage and screen actor whose upcoming film projects include Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and playing Henry Ford II in Ford v Ferrari; and Melissa Rauch, The Big Bang Theory‘s Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, who is in the Steven Soderbergh’s bio-dramedy The Laundromat that had a short theatrical run recently before landing on Netflix.
The Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) Fall Honors are co-sponsored by the Hollywood magazine (and bible) Variety, which once again presented a panel of “10 Actors to Watch.”
“I’m so glad you guys are doing like the 10 people to watch,” Woodard said on the red carpet. “A couple of them I have been watching for awhile, so I am so glad they are getting recognition.”
The 2019 grouping includes: Irish actress Jessie Buckley, who most recently received critical acclaim for her starring role in the film Wild Rose and her turn in HBO’s sobering Chernobyl; British actress/singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo, who won a Best Actress Tony for Broadway’s The Color Purple and plays the title role in Harriet, the Harriet Tubman biopic that is now in theaters; Maya Hawke, whose work in the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood made critics and audiences look beyond the fact that she’s the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman; Kelvin Harrison Jr., who the NBFF already honored as a young actor to watch when the Julius Onah picture he starred in, Luce, opened the 20th annual Newport Beach Film Festival on April 25.
Others among the 2019 10 Actors to Watch are: Noah Jupe, a young English actor who played one of the terrified family members in John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place and next appears in Honey Boy and Ford v Ferrari; veteran TV and film actor Rob Morgan, who is in Destin Daniel Cretton’s legal drama Just Mercy that will be out this Christmas and RZA’s Cut Throat City that’s due in theaters next year; Camila Morrone, who co-starred in Augustine Frizzell’s directorial debut Never Goin’ Back and will soon be seen in Annabelle Attanasio’s directorial debut Mickey and the Bear; screen vet Glen Powell, who played John Glenn in Hidden Figures and will be in next year’s Top Gun: Maverick; Margaret Qualley, whose portrayal of actress/dancer Ann Reinking in the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon earned her an Emmy nomination; she also played Manson Family member Pussycat in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and will be seen later this year in Benedict Andrews’ Seberg, where Kristen Stewart portrays actress Jean Seberg; and Tony nominated singer/actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who currently lights up the screen in Dolemite is My Name and Showtime’s deliciously twisted On Becoming a God in Central Florida.